Tennessee Unemployment Problems - And Response (3)

Saturday, December 27, 2008

Recently I found myself unemployed for the first time since I graduated college in 1992. My last official day with my former company was on Dec. 8, 2008.

On Dec. 11, I began trying to file for unemployment benefits. To this day I have still not talked to a single person. Every phone call results in a busy signal or when it does pick up the system goes through a two-minute explanation of extended benefits before cutting me off with a message about high call volume. I tried to file via the Internet and because my employer has an out of state payroll address the system kicked me out. So I am stuck - the only way to file is by phone.

I don't have any idea who in state government thinks this is acceptable. I have called over a dozen times a day for two weeks to get through with no answer. I think whoever is responsible should be terminated from their job and have to deal with the complete incompetence that the citizens of Tennessee are having to put up with.

I have called state Sen. Andy Berke and I have e-mailed state Sen. Bo Watson to help in the matter, I have not heard back from either representative. My hope is that one of them might be able to help fix this mess.

Robert Wright

* * *

I understand people are having trouble contacting the Tennessee State
Unemployment Department and the staff of said department is currently
overloaded with requests. But how about those of us who are unlucky
enough to be stuck in between two states because we were unlucky
enough to have moved right before the recession?

My name is Mallory Carra and I worked as a sportswriter at the
Chattanooga Times Free Press for two and a half years, before moving
back to New York last July to begin a job at the NY Daily News that
would only last six weeks. Initially, I filed a claim with New York
State unemployment, but through loads of paperwork, I was told to go
through Tennessee's unemployment. Though New York is my home state, I
never worked full-time here. I am now screwed for deciding to moving
away all those years ago.

I couldn't get through to Tennessee unemployment and kept getting
kicked off the phone because the line was "too busy" that day. I
decided temping for money was easier than filing with
Tennessee...until I got laid off from temping. I've been unemployed
for six weeks now, trying to contact Tennessee unemployment. The only
way I was able to get anyone was through e-mail. Then, they shut their
e-mails down and now all my e-mails, kindly requesting some help to
clarify my claims (which I found out are "unresolved" and there are
four of them, when I only filed two) were bounced back. I have no idea
how to "resolve" them.

This is an outrage. My friends in New York who were laid off in
November have been receiving their own unemployment benefits, the max
$475 from the state. Tennessee's max is significantly less at about
$275, but it would certainly help me out as my bank account dwindles
because no one is hiring, temping opportunities are gone and my only
work experience in newspapers is becoming obsolete. I guess the lesson
here is: Never move. Especially during a recession, because you'll be

Is anyone else having this problem? If so, we're also among the
unreported unemployed.

Mallory Carra

* * *

I too was laid off from my job in August 2008. I was fortunate enough to have been able to file for my unemployment online.

However, the last two weeks, I have been trying to call the unemployment office to get documentation from them. I get the same run around - either it hangs up on me, I get a busy signal or I get the speech about extended benefits and extreme high call volume.

I went to Tennessee's website to get email addresses; one was for the administrator for the labor department and the other was for her assistant. I received an email back telling me their email addresses were invalid. When you call the local unemployment office, they tell you to call the state.

I can understand with so many people unemployed, there is high call volume but people like myself and Mr. Wright need to speak to someone one-on-one. I would also email the representative, senator, governor and any other government official that could possibly do something but would my emails get answered? I honestly do not think so.

Amy Hawkins

* * *

The best thing to do is call early, call often. Be persistent and you all can get it straightened out.

It has been my experience that once you actually file your claim, you will be well served by certifying weekly over the web. Especially when you have to do an eligibility review, which is much easier to do online as it automatically pops up before you certify, where as on the UI claims line it is buried under 4 options. UI claims line is 877-813-0950. If you do not complete the review you will lose your benefits!!! It seems that since the eligibility review is so important it would be primary menu option and be easily accessible on the UI claims line, instead of being buried under multiple options.

Be sure to save/print your confirmations.

Do not feel like you are alone in this situation. I searched "Tennessee unemployment" on the internet and this is a growing problem statewide.

I wrote a letter about this to Bredesn, Wamp, Alexander, and Corker,
but I never heard back from any of them.
Maybe I should not have asked them to meet me at Bi Lo and pay for my groceries??

Charles Shoe

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